Frank Chin was born in Berkeley, California, but was raised to the age of six by a retired Vaudeville couple in Placerville, California. At six his mother brought him back to the San Francisco Bay Area to live in Oakland Chinatown. He attended college at the University of California, Berkeley. He received an American Book Award in 1989 for a collection of short stories, and another in 2000 for Lifetime Achievement. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Chin is considered to be one of the pioneers in Asian American theatre. He founded the Asian American Theatre Workshop, which became the Asian American Theater Company in 1973. He first gained notoriety as a playwright in the 1970s. His play The Chickencoop Chinaman was the first by an Asian American to be produced on a major New York stage. Stereotypes of Asian Americans, and traditional Chinese folklore are common themes in much of his work. Frank Chin has accused other Asian American writers, particularly Maxine Hong Kingston, of furthering such stereotypes and misrepresenting the traditional stories. Chin, during his professional career, has been highly critical of American writer, Amy Tan, for her telling of Chinese-American stories, indicating that her body of work has furthered and reinforced stereotypical views of this group.
In addition to his work as an author and playwright, Frank Chin has also worked extensively with Japanese American resisters of the draft in WWII. His novel, Born in the U.S.A., is dedicated to this subject. In the mid-1960s, he taught Robbie Krieger, a member of The Doors how to play the Flamenco guitar.
(for criticism on Year of the Dragon and Donald Duk, see the articles on those works)
Writing Manhood in Black and Yellow: Ralph Ellison, Frank Chin, and the Literary Politics of Identity By: Kim, Daniel Y.. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP; 2005. xxviii, 286 pp. (book)
Frank Chin By: Goshert, John Charles. Boise: Boise State U; 2002. 54 pp.
Chinese American Writers of the Real and the Fake: Authenticity and the Twin Traditions of Life Writing By: Madsen, Deborah L.; Canadian Review of American Studies/Revue Canadienne d'Etudes Americaines, 2006; 36 (3): 257-71.
Frank Chin By: Goshert, John Charles. IN: Madsen, Asian American Writers. Detroit: Gale; 2005. pp. 44—57
Other Possible Identities: Three Essays on Minor American Literatures By: Goshert, John Charles; Dissertation, Purdue U, 2001.
'China' in the American Diaspora By: Suoqiao, Qian. IN: Shell, American Babel: Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP; 2002. pp. 404—30
'Frank Chin Is Not a Part of This Class!' Thinking at the Limits of Asian American Literature By: Goshert, John; Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 2000 Spring-Summer; 4 (3): 39 paragraphs.
Frank Chin (1940- ) By: Huang, Guiyou. IN: Nelson, Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood; 2000. pp. 48—55
Frank Chin By: Lawrence, Keith. IN: Cracroft, Twentieth-Century American Western Writers. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale; 1999. pp. 42—50
Race, Writing, and Manhood: Ambivalent Identifications and American Literary Identity in Frank Chin and Ralph Ellison By: Kim, Daniel Young-Hoon; Dissertation, U of California, Berkeley, 1997.
Self, Nations, and the Diaspora: Re-Reading Lin Yutang, Bai Xianyong, and Frank Chin By: Shen, Shuang; Dissertation,City U of New York, 1998.
Tripmaster Monkey, Frank Chin, and the Chinese Heroic Tradition By: Chu, Patricia P.; Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory, 1997 Autumn; 53 (3): 117-39.
A Politics of Representation: Articulating Identities in Contemporary Asian-American Literature By: Chu, Janet Hyunju; Dissertation, State U of New York, Stony Brook, 1996.
The Problematics of Kingston's 'Cultural Translation': A Chinese Diasporic View of The Woman Warrior By: Liu, Toming Jun; Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 1996 Fall; 4: 15-30.
Dublin to Chinatown: James Joyce and Frank Chin By: Davis, Robert Murray; Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, 1996; 1: 117-22.
The Dialogic Richness of The Joy Luck Club By: Wang, Qun; Paintbrush: A Journal of Poetry and Translation, 1995 Autumn; 22: 76-84.
The Power of Myth: A Study of Chinese Elements in the Plays of O'Neill, Albee, Hwang, and Chin By: Bai, Niu; Dissertation, Boston U, 1995.
Death in the West: A Multicultural Adventure By: Davis, Robert Murray; Redneck Review of Literature, 1994 Spring-Fall; 26-27: 7-9.
Daddy, I Don't Know What You're Talking About By: Cho, Fiona; Hitting Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Cultural Criticism, 1993 Fall; 1 (1): 57-61.
Uncanny Doubles: Nationalism and Repression in Frank Chin's 'Railroad Standard Time' By: Chiu, Jeannie; Hitting Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Cultural Criticism, 1993 Fall; 1 (1): 93-107.
Frank Chin: Iconoclastic Icon By: Davis, Robert Murray; Redneck Review of Literature, 1992 Fall; 23: 75-78.
The Production of Chinese American Tradition: Displacing American Orientalist Discourse By: Li, David Leiwei. IN: Lim and Ling, Reading the Literatures of Asian America. Philadelphia: Temple UP; 1992. pp. 319—32
The Formation of Frank Chin and Formations of Chinese American Literature By: Li, David Leiwei. IN: Hune, Kim, Fugita, and Ling, Asian Americans: Comparative and Global Perspectives. Pullman: Washington State UP; 1991. pp. 211—23
Frank Chin: The Chinatown Cowboy and His Backtalk By: Kim, Elaine H.; Midwest Quarterly: A Journal of Contemporary Thought, 1978; 20: 78-91.
The Chinese-American Literary Scene: A Galaxy of Poets and a Lone Playwright By: Wand, David Hsin-Fu; Proceedings of the Comparative Literature Symposium, 1978; 9: 121-46.